All dormitories of foreign workers in Singapore, which house about 3 lakh people, have been declared coronavirus-free after extensive disinfection work in the crowded accommodations, according to media reports on Wednesday.
The coronavirus has so far claimed 27 lives in the country, with 56,031 confirmed cases. The bulk of the cases were among foreign workers living in these packed dormitories. The foreign workers quarters cleared of the virus include standalone blocks in purpose-built dormitories serving as isolation or quarantine facilities, Channel News Asia reported.
All residents in the standalone blocks have either completed their isolation or quarantine, or have been moved to other government facilities depending on their health status, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a press release on Wednesday.
About 86 per cent of foreign workers in the construction, marine and processing sectors have been allowed to resume work, up from the 81 per cent announced last week. These workers have received the Green ‘AccessCode’ which is required to return to work.
“We expect the recently cleared dormitories to soon complete all the necessary preparations, with an additional 20,000 residents expected to have Green ‘AccessCodes,” the channel quoted the ministry as saying.
Half of these residents currently have Red ‘AccessCode’ as their addresses are not updated. Reminders will be sent to dormitory operators and employers to update workers’ addresses accordingly. Moving forward, the MOM said it expects some people to continue to have ‘Red ‘AccessCodes’.
This may be the case if some workers test positive for COVID-19 or if a worker’s close contact tests positive.
Workers may also have a Red ‘AccessCode’ if they are placed on precautionary quarantine while authorities establish their exposure to a positive case.
These occurrences are part of the overall system of ensuring compliance with rostered routine testing (RRT), and that any cases detected are contained, with contacts traced and the block or level of the dormitory isolated, said the MOM.
The rostered routine testing is among the measures authorities are taking to prevent a second wave of infections in cleared dormitories. More than 100,000 migrant workers have started the routine testing, which is conducted biweekly.
Other measures include grouping migrant workers in dormitories according to the type of industries they work in, implementing safe distancing measures and conducting contact tracing once a new case is detected. “Sector agencies will work closely with the employers to assess the risk at the workplaces and put in place safety timeouts if necessary,” the MOM said, adding that “aggressive testing operations” will also be conducted when a new case is detected.